Saturday 24 February 2018

Wenger wants home help

Arsene Wenger has challenged his Arsenal side to kick-start their title ambitions at Emirates stadium.

The Gunners have lost their last two home league matches against Tottenham and Newcastle, but Wenger believes his side can turn things around against Fulham on Saturday despite still being without Cesc Fabregas.

The Arsenal captain will be sidelined for another two weeks with the hamstring injury he suffered against Braga in the Champions League but Sami Nasri and Sebastien Squillaci are both fit.

And while goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is still unavailable after suffering a minor setback to his elbow injury in training, Wenger insisted he was confident his side would return to winning ways at home.

"I don't worry about it because you win football games when you play well nine times out of 10," said Wenger.

"Let's focus on playing well. Psychologically, we won on Tuesday night (against Wigan in the Carling Cup) and we won the game before against Aston Villa, so it will be down to the quality of our performance tomorrow.

"Our away form got us in a good position in the table but of course we want our home form from now to take off. If we can combine the two we have a good chance and that is our target."

Wenger confirmed he had no intentions of buying or selling in the January transfer window, nor was he disappointed that Fulham's Mark Schwarzer, a transfer target for the Gunners last summer, has signed a new two-year deal with Fulham.

Wenger instead insisted he had confidence in goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

He said: "I always had (confidence) and I have even more now. He has shown in the last two months that he has the quality to play for Arsenal. At the moment we are not in the market."

Robin van Persie is in the squad to face Fulham and Wenger insisted the Dutch striker could be used in tandem with Marouane Chamakh.

"Van Persie is getting stronger every day," explained Wenger. "He had 70 minutes the other night and I am confident that if we can get him injury-free in the next three weeks he will be back to his best level.

"We can play Chamakh and Van Persie together. We can play Chamakh up front and van Persie behind. What is interesting is we can play all kinds of formations with the two."

Wenger also reiterated his belief that the Barclays Premier League is wide open and as many as seven clubs realistically are in the race for the title.

"I have not changed my mind," said Wenger.

"Maybe I was a bit strong when I said seven but if you look purely mathematically yes, but if you look more at the quality of the squads you would go down a bit. But five or six can still win it."

He believes the demands of the Champions League and the general improvement in quality are the reasons why no single club has dominated.

Wenger said: "All the other teams have improved certainly. It is difficult at the moment to have a real consistency.

"Manchester United have been the most consistent but they have won less games so they couldn't get away from anybody else.

"Maybe it's down to the fact that the teams who play in the Champions League do not always manage to win after that. As well, the teams in the middle of the table have become much stronger."

On the January transfer window Wenger said: "The squad is quite big. Unless some players go, I will have to do something to bring players in but at the moment my intention is not to sell and not to strengthen in any area because I am happy with the players I have."

Press Association

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